By ERWIN CHLANDA
“It’s saddening we had to threaten parents with the big stick but miraculously they responded immediately,” says Health Minister John Elferink (pictured).
He says the result of his and the Chief Minister’s announcement yesterday was that last night there was much less vandalism and rock throwing which had the town in uproar for a week.
He says 29 children were picked up and taken to their parents who were “read the riot act” with the result that many of them returned to their bush communities today.
Nine infringement notices had been issued.
But Mr Elferink conceded it would be difficult to take children into care – as had been announced yesterday in the event of the parents failing to act – because of the scarcity of resources.
He says preparations to increase them had now started with moves to improve communications between departments, “breaking down silos”.
This may include bush police officers monitoring school attendance.
In town camps Territory Housing tenants would be reminded of their contractual obligations with respect to the number of guest they are allowed to have, and the duration they are allowed to stay.
Mr Elferink says it is clear more foster places and other facilities where children can compulsorily be taken into care will be needed in case of new outbreaks of anti-social behaviour.
He compared the difficulty of budgeting for such contingencies with having an army in peacetime – and suddenly being confronted by war.
“We are creating the planning process now, putting a director in charge of marrying up several departments and assessing costs,” says Mr Elferink.
By ERWIN CHLANDA